Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo '09, Chapter Twenty-Nine: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

The below is a section of the novel that I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. It isn't a stand-alone story, and it's probably not worth your time to read. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month so wordcount is valued above quality. This is a good thing, as it encourages people to actually finish a project. Nobody expects that the result will be ready for public consumption without heavy editing. If you want to read it for some reason you can view the whole thing in one place HERE although that's still totally unedited and terrible. You have been warned.

The Extractor is heavy on my chest, but I can something happening to me. It's going to work, I know it will. Everything is going to be okay.
"Until you die." Nobody said that. It's fine. Dave is smiling as he works, I can tell we're almost done now. Just a little longer. I'll have the ability to fix it all, stop all the fighting. The Extractor beeps, and David places a hand on my shoulder to keep me from standing. "Not yet. Let me make sure it's all... lined up. Don't try to use any powers, do you understand?" I nod. There's no need to rush.

"Dave?" Emily is coming back, with some suits in tow. I recognize one of them, but I can't place him.
"Emily... ah. Agent Black. Long time no see. Are you here to negotiate our surrender?"
He laughs. "No! Lord no, David. I daresay I wouldn't be able to do anything for you no matter how nicely I asked. I need to talk to you about what you are doing right now, with Darryl there. It's very important."
Where do I know him from? This is important. I've seen him.
"You can't stop me, Black. This needs to happen. And you've brought the wrong person with you if you want to make friends - last time I saw baby-face here he was trying to infiltrate the Drowned Spider."
The other one, the one Dave called baby face, steps forward. "Listen to your father, David. The one who destroyed Disney is still alive, he's waiting nearby to use you."
"My father? What the hell are you talking about? I remember my father, it's not agent Black."
Black laughs again. "Sorry, that's my fault. He got this into his head and I just let him believe it."
Baby face looks confused, or angry. "What? Are you kidding me? I've seen the pictures! I talked to Toht!"

He's waving his arms around like a crazy person, and suddenly there's a gunshot. Emily drops backwards and hits the floor and baby face spins to face me. It happens so fast. I couldn't stop it. Can I use my powers? Is it safe? He's going to shoot me, I have to do something. Dave can't move, he's in shock just staring at Emily. I want to tell him it's okay, that we can fix this. Even this. He's going to pull the trigger, I have to do something... but Dave is still holding on and it won't work. Something won't work right. There's a shot, and baby-face drops with a look of shock on his face. Black steps over him, fires again. And again. And again. He unloads the clip and keeps pulling the trigger after it's just clicking. I would swear he wasn't even holding a gun a minute ago.

Dave still hasn't moved. I don't know what to do. I start trying to use my ability again, and I can feel that it's changed. Grown. It's something more than the sum of its parts.
"Do it. Now." No. No, it's not right. Not yet. Black drops his gun, collapses to his knees. The shots and yelling is closer now, somewhere in the building. I can smell what's left of Disney burning. When Dave finally speaks his voice is barely more than a whisper. "Is this... what you came to do, Black?"
"David. I'm... I'm so sorry. This wasn't meant to happen. I need you to listen to me, to understand what you're doing. Please."
David looks at me. "Darryl... you're ready. Whenever you want, you can leave. Get started on the plan. Just leave me here when you do. I'm not going to leave."

"For the love of god, David! You don't know what you're doing! Just listen to me. Please."
David steps down to stand next to Emily, and takes a gun from her hand. "Talk." He presses the gun against Black's temple. "Go ahead. Say whatever you want. But when the soldiers get here I'm going to pull this trigger. Nothing you say will change that."
I know where I've seen him before. It all clicks at once. "David, no. Don't trust him! He... he tried to kill me. He shot at me on my way home, the day the feds found me. He's here to kill us. You can't listen to him!"

"Yes, I tried to kill you. I know what you are. Ferris... was confused. The one who destroyed Disney is here, but not in the way he meant. It's you, Darryl. You did all this."
He's lying, of course. It's absurd. I've had dreams lately, dreams of tearing the sky open and... and nothing. They're just dreams.
"David," he continues, "Of course I'm not your father. But it's more complicated that that... I'm you. A you that might have been, that was. This has all happened before - I don't know how many times. Darryl isn't going to teleport anywhere - he's going to travel back in time."
So maybe he's not lying. I had my suspicions, a strange feeling that I would be able to reach into the past, but it was only minutes ago that I understood it was real. Within our grasp. My grasp.

"When I was younger, there was no agent Black. I followed Darryl to Disneyland, I confronted him, and I tried to stop him. Something went wrong, and... I don't fully understand. Between us, we damaged some barrier that allowed this energy to leak through. It destroyed Disney, and left only myself alive. When I was your age, I fought against the government in the same way that you did. Franklin would teleport Ike to a strategic location, and then Pudge would hit him with lightning. That was my plan. We had help from Darryl, though we didn't know his name; everyone just called him Freeze Frame. In the end, we were cornered here in Disney and the interference from government jammers and the rift overhead kept Franklin from teleporting. I linked them, searching for a way out, and... Darryl felt what he could do. Until then I hadn't known, hadn't understood, but as soon as he said he could travel through time I knew who he was.

"I fought him, tried to pull away, but he had already tapped into something more powerful than either of us and he turned my own power against me. He stole it. When the soldiers burst in - like they will any minute now - he panicked and fled back in time, pulling me and Franklin along with him. Franklin was killed, but I survived and searched for him. I vowed to never let it happen again, but... there's something larger at work here, David. Something terrible. Do you see what's happening? There shouldn't be any way for this to be happening. You can either change the past or you can't. There's no in-between. Why would everything be happening just like before if we truly have free will? How is it I can change things but the results are the same?"

David slams Black behind the ear with the butt of the gun and knocks him to the ground. "Darryl... is this true?"
I might as well be honest. "Yeah. Yeah, it is. It's the only way to fix things, Dave. Anything else I do won't bring them back. The people I killed, the ones that died at Disney. Emily. Think of Emily, Dave."
He nods. "Yeah. What about the part where nothing changes?"
"It only has to change once. Do you want the change to be that the story ends here, or that Disneyland never gets destroyed?"

Black is watching the door as Dave comes back to stand next to me. "How many times has this conversation played out, David? I tried to break the cycle before, all that Darryl had to do was avoid Disneyland. That would have done it. But guess what? He went straight there. Maybe he went there to stop it, maybe he had good intentions, but I don't think so. I think some sick force of destiny made him do it. We cant' stop it except head on, David. Disney will be destroyed every time. The conflict will escalate every time. Emily will die. Every time. I won't watch her die again, David. I won't do it."

"Do it. Now. You don't listen to them." Nobody says.

A voice echoes through the cavern. It says to surrender, says that all of the freaks in the park are dead. I would say it was a bluff except that the gunfire has stopped. Dave looks at me and squints, like he does when he's looking at an ability.
"Don't try to stop me, Dave."
He smiles at me. "I won't. I'm going to help you. Relax, we'll do it right this time."

Black charges forward, desperate, ready to kill me with his bare hands. David reaches inside my mind.

And the world ends.